Reviews: Top of the East, Amigos

The Portland Magazine has reviewed the Top of the East, and

Great drinks aren’t the only offer at the Top. It serves up romantic city views of our illustrious skyline and Portland Harbor. Your prospects are up in lights from this Olympian perspective. If you haven’t been up here for a while, it’s twice as good as you remember it.

the Press Herald has reviewed the Amigos.

Not just a summer venue, Amigos is also a friendly place to hang out on weekdays after work before it’s warm enough for the patio, especially over a game of pool.

Reviews: Empire, Sur Lie, More & Co, Farm to Coast Cafe

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Empire Chinese Kitchen, and

With so much competition, Empire has made adjustments to its once-concise menu, inflating it from eight dishes to nearly 50. Among these are several insipid Americanized dishes. Don’t bother. There are also a few standouts, like crisp-tender wok-sautéed bok choy, super-savory dry-fried green beans and roasted strips of long-marinated pork loin roasted hot and fast. Dim sum dishes are generally good, especially fat, aromatic har gow and golden-crusted, pan-fried bao hiding ginger, chicken and bok choy.

The Golden Dish has reviewed the Sur Lie.

Excellent all the way with beautifully devised tapas and inventive larger plate under the expert guidance of chef Emil Rivera

The Press Herald has also published reviews of the Farm to Coast Cafe in Biddeford and More & Co in Yarmouth.

Reviews: Piccolo, LB Kitchen

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Piccolo, and

The new Piccolo still holds a maximum of 20 diners at a time, but it feels (and is) brighter, more colorful and best of all: more accessible. With the addition of half-portions of pasta to the menu, it is easy to imagine stopping in for a weekday meal of phenomenal Funghi (a stealth salad with a runny egg that creates its own carbonara-like dressing), a plate of pork-sugo-dressed strascinati pasta, and a half-dessert, half-digestif fior di latte gelato slowly melting into a fruity, herbal shot of Pasubio amaro. No special occasion required.

The Bollard has reviewed the LB Kitchen.

It’s definitely possible to make healthier choices than we made — the menu includes several whole-grain bowls, vegetable-heavy sandwiches and the like — but to me, LB Kitchen shines brightest when they put a healthyish spin on traditional breakfast fare. The prices aren’t the lowest in town, but the quality of both the ingredients and their preparation made the cost seem totally reasonable. I can declare without shame that I’ll be back soon.

Reviews: Mr. Tuna, Simply Vegan by Silly’s, Anthony’s Italian Kitchen

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Simply Vegan by Silly’s,

Simply Vegan is still evolving. Many menu items (especially sandwiches) are hopelessly sloppy and difficult to eat, but there are some real gems among them. You can’t go wrong with the chunky white-bean hummus and greens in the You’ve Got Kale sandwich, and the sweet, nuanced flavors of the BBQ beans are out of this world. But best of all are baker Jeremy Newbert’s baked goods, from homemade multigrain sandwich bread to extraordinary mint-chocolate grasshopper triple-layer cake. They’re so good, you won’t know, nor will you care, that they’re vegan.

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed the Mr. Tuna, and

Those hand rolls are still the stars of the show. Every combination I’ve tasted has been up there with the best vehicles for raw and slightly seared fish I’ve ever tasted, save for a few small, barely mentionable gripes (a heavy hand with powerfully fragrant shiso in the salmon belly temaki, a bit too much acid for my tastes in the tuna tataki). None of this matters once you sink your teeth into a fresh dayboat Maine scallop cone, with just enough smoky char from broiled sudachi mayo to balance what has got to be the sweetest, most texturally pleasing mollusk on the planet. Equally worth ordering is the Maine crab, where a simple dash of yuzu mayo brings out multiverses of salinity and soft, delicate funk.

The Press Herald has reviewed the Anthony’s Italian Kitchen.

The glorious creation was made with Genoa salami, prosciutto, capicola, imported provolone, tomato, onion, roasted red peppers, olive oil and oregano, all served on an 8-inch Piantedosi Italian roll ($8.50).

2019 Beard Award Semifinalists

The list of semifinal nominees for the 2019 James Beard Foundation awards were released today. There are 9/10 semifinalist nominees from Maine:

  • Best Chef: Northeast – Vien Dobui, Cong Tu Bot; Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell, Palace Diner; Krista Kern Desjarlais, The Purple House; Erin French, The Lost Kitchen; Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, Suzuki’s Sushi Bar.
  • Outstanding Restaurant – Fore Street
  • Outstanding Baker – Alison Pray, Standard Baking
  • Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Professional – Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co.
  • Outstanding Service – Back Bay Grill

The final list of nominees will be released on March 27th, and the awards ceremony will take place on May 6th in Chicago.

Related information:

Review of Crunchy Poke

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Crunchy Poké.

Like most contemporary poké spots, Crunchy Poké takes inspiration from Asian cooking to inflect its menu. Here, owner/chef Tien Nguyen delivers a Japanese-inspired gloss on the dish, serving a few great bowls, like cubed salmon dressed in Kewpie-mayo and served over a sweet, brown-rice-and-quinoa blend, and a Maine lobster bowl that gets an acidic kick from a soy-and-vinegar-based sauce. Weirdly, tonkotsku (slow-cooked pork belly) ramen is among Crunchy Poké’s best dishes, and while it does not fit with the business’s focus on sustainability, local sourcing or healthy eating – or even poké, for that matter – it is a slurpable, savory-smoky treat.

Reviews: Hugo’s, Duckfat Frites Shack

The Maine Sunday Telegram has reviewed the Hugo’s, and

Think of it as the Anne Brontë of the trio: It keeps the lowest profile, but it is almost certainly the most interesting of the bunch. An eclectic, New American restaurant that plays up both its Asian and Mediterranean influences, Hugo’s offers a menu of small (and slightly larger) plates that demonstrate new chef de cuisine Ben Christie’s mastery at equilibrating acid and umami, heat and sweetness, as well as textural contrasts. His best dishes include smoky, hand-rolled tortellini in a sparklingly clear pork consommé and a remarkable pairing of uni (sea urchin roe), pickled ginger and carrots.

the Press Herald has reviewed the Duckfat Frites Shack.

What the soup lacked in quantity, though, it made up for in quality. It was more like a duck chili – smoky, warm and satisfying. Bits of carrots and other veggies were mixed in with the duck and the fried duck skins. The tiny bits of fried duck skin were a little soggy by the time I ate them – my fault – but I picked a few out to taste separately and they were delicious, definitely adding to the layers of flavor.

Review of Evo

The Bollard has reviewed the Evo.

As vegan diners walking in off the street, this was the most delicious impromptu lunch we’ve experienced in Portland. While the difference in the welcome we received between night and day was stark, and the pacing of the vegan tasting menu too fast, outstanding food and service place Evo at the top of the list as a vegan foodie destination in Maine.

Review of Izakaya Minato

The Portland Phoenix has reviewed the Izakaya Minato, “one of the best dining experiences Portland has to offer”.

Choosing a standout dish at Izakaya Minato is challenging given the fact that nearly every menu item offers something unique and discussion-worthy, but the honors must go to the sublimely complex shiromi ankake. An almost gravy-like base of smoky amber dashi sets the scene for tender mushrooms and blisteringly hot fried white fish, topped with a flurry of cooling shaved daikon. It is, at its heart, the very definition of “comfort food,” yet distinctly different from the fat and salt-laden dishes typical of the Western usage of that same term.